(December 16, 2011) — As the United States struggles through a burgeoning debt crisis, one congressman is clamoring to end congressional pensions.
While a majority of the private-sector workforce has seen their pensions slowly disappear, members of Congress receive both a pension and a quality employer-match plan.
“The rest of the country has been focused on state and local government pensions. So how has Washington been able to get away with pensions while the rest of the country loses theirs? Members of Congress pay far less into their pensions than other government workers while taxpayers kick in more,” Griffin told aiCIO in a telephone interview.
According to Griffin, the demise of congressional pensions would give federal lawmakers more credibility in addressing related financial issues.
“Ultimately, this is about the next step. When you talk about congressional pensions, you’re talking about millions of dollars. This bill only deals with members of Congress — the gateway with which we have to travel to get credibility and political momentum to deal with the broader issue of federal pensions,” Griffin said, adding that his legislation is not a question of morality, but a question of affordability.
In mid-November, Griffin introduced legislation terminating congressional pensions for future elected officials. Two months earlier, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced stricter legislation to end lawmakers’ pensions.
“I make it clear that with regard to [federal] pensions, the legislation [I plan to introduce] would only impact the next generation of federal pensions — people who haven’t even started working for the fed government,” Griffin asserted.
When asked about the pension crisis in Europe compared to the US, Griffin said that the Europeans waited so long to address their pension crisis that they are now forced to impact people who depend on their pensions. “In the US, we are still early enough to fix it for the next generation,” he asserted, noting that a few states have started scaling back their programs, while others have been forced to ask for federal bailouts.